When To Use Belly Breathing Versus Breathing With Bandhas

April 7, 2020

Transcript below of: When to use belly breathing versus breathing with bandhas

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. Of course, you can submit your own question. Just go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and we’ll try to answer it on video. So this month’s question comes from MC and it’s about belly breathing versus breathing with bandhas. It’s a two-part question.

The Question:

“My question is about the breathing [and comes] from your book, ‘Functional Anatomy of Yoga’ (page 130 to 131), [where it says, in] the second type of breathing, we engage the mula bandha and uddiyana bandha and completely change the common understanding/practice of the belly breathing. [DK: So, MC has doubts about that.] Is it possible to breathe using the second type [of] breathing off the mat, as in our daily life? Personally, I tried it and I find it’s kind of tough to breathe in such a way. Maybe I am doing [it] wrongly or not mastering the skills yet.”

DK: I’m going to answer this first question now. No, you’re not necessarily supposed to take that technique (breathing with bandhas) and apply it 24-7. You just want to use that technique as part of the practices themselves, because they create a particular kind of quality and energy that you utilize in your practice. So, you don’t have to take that off the mat.

The second question

“The second type of breathing completely changes the common working sequence of the diaphragm, where during inhalation the diaphragm contracts and pulls down to create a negative pressure in the lungs and allows the air to enter into the lungs. So, if we adopt the second type of breathing in our lifestyle, would it create any problem for our health physically and mentally? Or this is just a change of habit for the breathing process?

Just sharing, after I tried the belly breathing and second type of breathing, I find both methods are giving me different experience and results. The belly breathing is more relaxing and calming (maybe I’m used to it, for example during final relaxation), but it’s not so helpful during practice and vice versa for the second type of breathing. So is this true?
Thanks and namaste.

The Answer:

So, like I said. I think your experience is the most common experience. Belly breathing creates a different quality and a different energy. And, holding the lower abdomen in and changing the way in which the diaphragm functions (breathing with bandhas) also creates a different energy. Those different qualities will be used for different purposes, particularly in the practices.

So, keep in mind that the whole idea of drawing the lower abdomen in, as in uddiyana bandha and mula bandha, and even adding on something like jalandhara bandha — these are all part of pranayama practice. So they come out of there. They’re not techniques that we need to try to make fit into our daily life. No baby comes out breathing with their lower abdomen in. That’s not the natural way of breathing. It’s just a technique.

And, I think that already answers your question. I think you’re just trying to misapply it (the breathing with bandhas technique). I don’t know where that came from for you. Maybe someone suggested that you should be doing that all day. I wouldn’t suggest that and I agree with you that they create different qualities and energies.

Alright, I hope that answered your question. If you’ve got a question, once again, you can go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and we’ll answer it on video.

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